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Views of Matinicus Rock

Views of Matinicus Rock, one of the seven seabird islands run by Project Puffin. The most remote of all the research stations, it is a 22-acre offshore island located in outer Penobscot Bay.

The first light station was built in 1827 and there are many tales of heroism associated with the light keeper era, none more famous than that of young lighthouse heroine Abbie Burgess. The light is now automated and the buildings and facilities are maintained by MCINWR and the Seabird Restoration Program. The island has a long-intertwined seabird and human history – the first wardens here were light keepers of Matinicus Rock, hired by the American Ornithologists Union in 1901 and soon thereafter by the National Association of Audubon Societies (National Audubon Society).

The first wardens were charged with protecting nesting birds from widespread slaughter by millinery hunters. Most seabirds were already extirpated from Maine at this time, including puffins, but one pair survived here in 1901. In the 1930’s Carl and Harriet Buchheister (he was past Audubon president and first Director of the Audubon Camp on Hog Island) began a long tenure of studying storm-petrels and continuing the role of Audubon warden for the island. They resided in what is known as ‘Audubon House’ most summers from 1936-1981.

In 1979, Project Puffin staff first visited to study puffins in what then was the only Maine nesting colony. Unlike most Maine seabird colonies, nesting puffins, terns, storm-petrels and other species continued using the site throughout the 20th century due to the consistent presence of wardens.

Photos Courtesy of Bethany Baldwin